Category: Common Elements novella


 

I am going to be floating on cloud nine for the next few days, just because I’m thrilled that Light the Way Home is out in the world now. If you click on the title, that takes you to a page with links to all the major booksellers, in case you need something new to read this week while you’re staying home to avoid germs, or just to take your mind off of the scary news stories everywhere.

Ever since my publisher for Hunting Medusa closed up shop a few years ago, I have been studying up on the long list of steps from start to finish to self-publish a book, because I want to get Hunting Medusa back out, along with the second and third books in the ‘Medusa’s Daughters’ trilogy. There were a lot more points on the list than I would have guessed when I started, and it was pretty daunting to think about, so I didn’t do anything. It’s easier to do nothing when you’re afraid of making a huge mistake, isn’t it?

But then on one of my writing loops, a generous author offered an opportunity that I had to take: the Common Elements Romance Project. Five story elements that needed to be included in everyone’s story, but none of the stories in the project are connected otherwise. A novella seemed like a great way to get my feet wet in the self-publishing world. Still all the same steps, but not technically alone, so somehow not as scary. Weird how our brains work sometimes, isn’t it?

I had a few roadblocks and setbacks, mostly related to real life and the day-job, so I’m later with this story than I had planned initially, but it’s here at last, and I am still thrilled. Plus I feel like I might be able to do this a bit better again with ‘Medusa’s Daughters’, which is a good thing, since I have them on my writing goals list for this year. Yikes.

While I go back to revisions on the second Medusa story, I have a little story snippet for you from a novella I am hoping to set loose in the world down the road, maybe next year.

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Boone Thatcher froze in his tracks as he rounded the corner of the house. She was at it again. His heart pounded in his head until he couldn’t hear anything else.

Long, bare legs, braced on the rickety metal ladder.

He let his gaze slide up them, from her bare, paint-spattered toes, to her shapely calves, to slender thighs topped by fringey, cut-off shorts that only covered her ass by a few scant inches.

The blood rushing in his veins all dropped southward, to his groin, at the images his mind summoned up. Had been summoning up for months now. Made him want to loosen his already-undone tie to get some air in his lungs.

“Oh, hi, Boone.” Moira Dawley smiled brightly down at him, dripping paint from her narrow paintbrush onto the shrub beside her ladder. “I didn’t hear you.”

He swallowed, his mouth dry, and forced his gaze up from the curve of her bottom, past the faded white t-shirt with a hole near one hip, to her face, to brown eyes like melted chocolate. Dark and decadent. Eyes he wanted to drown in.

He jerked his wayward mind back from the brink. “Hi, Moira. I got your message.”

Her smile disappeared. “Oh.” Faint color touched her fair, freckled cheeks.

He frowned. Her message hadn’t hinted at anything bad.

She stuck her brush into the tray resting atop the shaky ladder and backed down.

Boone resisted the urge to catch her around the waist and lift her off. Each gentle sway of her hips was torture.

By the time she stepped onto the ground again, he struggled to breathe evenly. Sweat ran down his back under his dark uniform shirt, dampened his nape on the way.

Moira looked at him curiously. “You okay, Boone?”

He nodded. “Just a little warm.”

The curiosity became disbelief, then cleared. “Were you working out after your shift?”

He nodded again. Somehow, he didn’t think that one little lie was a very big deal. Not as big as if he told her the truth: his tongue was about to drag on the ground from the sight of her bare legs.

She smiled a little. “I made lemonade. Come on in.” She waved at him as she moved past, heading for the back door into her little house.

He shook himself mentally and followed her inside, then barely managed to swallow back a groan at the sight of her bent over in front of the refrigerator. Her shorts rode up so he got a fleeting glimpse of white lace panties.

He rested his forehead against the cool wall and shut his eyes. Shit, what did I do to deserve this torture?

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Now I’m going to go revise and maybe think about supper before I have to start thinking about week two of work-from-home. How does your week look? Are you working from home, too? Or are you still going out to the day-job every day? If you are, be safe!

 

This will be short and sweet, but I had to make sure you all know to come on over to my Facebook page today from noon to 5 p.m. EST for some release day fun!

Today is the day Light the Way Home is out in the world, and I’m so excited. I hope you like it!

 

 

If you come around regularly, you know I’ve been talking about this for ages. I’m way overdue for this story to be released, but it is finally time, and I’m excited to share it with you. Nervous, too, since it’s been such a long time since I had a book out. I hope you all like it. In case you like to pre-order so your reading material shows up on release day, I have a link where you can find your favorite online book-seller to pre-order Light the Way Home.

I’ll be hanging out over on my Facebook page on release day, Friday, March 27, 2020, from noon to 5pm EST, and I’d love if you stopped by to see me. I have a few ideas for discussion, and some games to play, so please don’t let me be there all by myself.

I’m working on our Sunday family dinner right now, but before I go, I have a little snippet for you, from Light the Way Home:

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Lucie had been on Mac’s Light Island for almost three weeks, but the view from the back door of her temporary home still took her breath away. Right now, she realized she’d been standing there staring, slack-jawed, at the sunlight glinting off the grey-blue ocean waves for a good five minutes. Shaking her head, she pulled the door shut and stepped down onto the sidewalk, feeling in her purse for her car keys.

She closed her fingers on the fob as a giggle reached her ears. She turned to the white picket fence that bordered the property next door as a big multi-colored ball sailed over it, toward her. “Oh!” She caught it before it hit her in the face, then started across the grass, balancing the ball on her hand.

Another giggle sounded as she neared the fence, so she adjusted her direction a tiny bit and came to a stop looking directly down onto a tousled blond head.

“I think you lost something,” she said.

The little boy’s face tipped up quickly, his blue eyes wide with surprise–as if he couldn’t believe she’d found him already.

Lucie grinned and held the ball higher.

He smiled as he got to his feet, brushing off his jeans-clad knees.

From seeing him playing outside several times already, she’d guessed he might be four, but now at close range, she scaled that back to three.

“Hi, I’m Hayden,” he said, holding out his right hand.

It was her turn to be surprised. She shook his hand, bemused. “Hi, Hayden, I’m Lucie.” Not too many three-year-olds had such good manners. Aside from the ball toss at her face, that is. “Nice to meet you.”

He glanced up at his ball. “Me an’ my dad are your neighbors.”

“I see that.” She noted he hadn’t mentioned his mom. “Who were you playing with?” She gave the ball a little bounce.

“Maybe you wanna play with me.” Guileless blue eyes locked on her face.

Ah. She squelched the pang in her chest. “I wish I could, but I’m on my way to town. Maybe we can play another time?” she added when his grin vanished.

“Like this afternoon?”

“Hayden!”

The deep voice got her attention–and the boy’s–just before a tall, sandy-haired man rounded the back corner of the next-door house.

Lucie’s mouth went dry. Wowza!

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Now I need to go check on some homemade mac and cheese for my guys, before I prep for my first week of work-from-home for the day-job. I hope you’re all staying safe and healthy, and that you will stop by for release day on Friday if you can! It’ll be a little distraction from being stuck at home for many of us.

 

(peeking out of a window – Depositphotos)

 

With all of the scary news around this week, I hope you are all home safe and well, and that you have plenty of reading material to keep you occupied if you wind up having to stay home for an extended period of time.

I do my normal grocery shopping every other Friday, and guess which Friday was time to go? Of course it was the thirteenth, and it seemed like our entire county had lost its collective mind and decided it was the apocalypse.

I always start at our local warehouse club for the things we typically buy in bulk–paper towels, a frozen fruit mixture I take to work for lunch, water, dry cat food–and then head to a locally owned grocery store chain for things like produce and snacks. One of my coworkers got a warning from her housemate before we left the office that the warehouse club had a line all the way across the store earlier in the afternoon, but we were hoping that had gone away before we went to do our shopping. That was not the case. Not only were they completely out of toilet paper, but also paper towels. The only paper products they had left were tissues and paper plates. None of the waters I buy were left–we always get the store brand waters, still and sparkling (I’m not a fan of the chlorinate-smelling water that comes out of our faucets at home, so I guess I’m a little spoiled), but that wasn’t even everything…no orange juice, none of my frozen fruit, no bread. The only pasta left was lasagna. Weirdly, there was still canned fruit, soup, and other things like that. Half of the things on my list weren’t available, which means another trip.

The only good things were that the store staff was doing a phenomenal job keeping the line moving (and it was even longer by the time I got in it, wrapping back toward the front of the store, and two of my coworkers were even farther back), and people weren’t being jerks. I felt bad, though, that the store staff was going to have to deal with all of the abandoned carts throughout the store from people who didn’t have the patience to wait their turn in line (I hope there weren’t perishables in those carts!).

The grocery store was slightly better by the time I got there, though they also had no toilet paper left (I’m glad I bought that two weeks earlier and didn’t need to buy more), and a lot of the frozen vegetables were cleaned out, but they had staff working on restocking things in different areas while we were shopping. Even at work, contingency plans are being worked on, in case we need to work from home. Hopefully it won’t come to that, but it might.

I’m working on a new shopping list for that next trip, and while I think about that, I have a little story snippet for you, from Hunting Medusa.

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Andrea rested her head on her folded arms on the kitchen table, only half listening to Kallan typing on his keyboard. She didn’t want to die just yet. She knew for sure she didn’t want to be mutilated before she died.

But she didn’t look forward to killing the Harvester either.

She never should have had sex with him. She knew it. She’d known it beforehand.

And she should definitely not still want him.

When the phone rang, it was a relief. For a few seconds. Until she realized it was Thalia. “My cousin.” She didn’t think she needed to explain her mental caller I.D. to him.

Kallan held her gaze for a long moment. “Don’t try to let her know what’s going on,” he said at last. “I know where a lot of your cousins are located, and I’m not the only one.”

Her heart pounded harder at the implication, but she got to her feet and picked up the receiver. “Hello, Thalia. How are you?”

“I’m fine, Andi, but I think you need to get away for a while.”

She frowned, feeling Kallan’s presence behind her. Close behind her. Close enough to hear her conversation. “What do you mean?” His body heat teased her.

“The Harvesters are out and about. I’m afraid for you.”

Andi shut her eyes for a second, then opened them again when he put his hands on her shoulders. She shot him a glare and moved away, back toward the table. “I’m fine.”

“Please don’t ignore this, Andi. You know I’m hardly ever wrong.”

That was true. But she wondered if her cousin realized she was very often late with her flashes of intuition. Far too late in this case. “Okay. I’ll give it some thought, all right? Mom said something the other day about visiting.” Gods, had it only been two days ago? “And Aunt Lydia just called yesterday too. I could go to see either of them if anything seems odd.”

His hands settled on her shoulders again, massaging the tense muscles there.

She didn’t bother to shrug him off this time. He was persistent. “I could even come visit with you,” she teased, forcing a lightness into her tone.

Her cousin cleared her throat. “I actually have company right now,” she said after a moment, and Andi could almost see her blushing. “You remember I met someone in Athens last summer? Well, he’s come again to stay for a while.” Even over the phone, the emotion in Thalia’s voice was obvious.

One more cousin safe—none of the cousins who’d fallen in love ever had the curse land on their heads. A tiny bit of relief made her relax further under Kallan’s touch. “That’s terrific, Thalia. When do the rest of us get to meet him?”

“We’re talking dates,” the other woman said, a hint of a smile in her tone now. “I’ll be sure to let you know.”

“Good. And thanks for the warning. I miss you.”

“I miss you, too. I’ve got to go, Andi. Talk to you soon. But promise you’ll be careful. Danger is coming from more than one direction.”

She pushed the off button on the phone and shut her eyes, ignoring the slight sting in them. She was not envious of Thalia’s good fortune. She was just in an impossible situation here.

His warm breath brushed the top of her head a second before his lips. “That was good.”

She wanted to tell him to go screw himself. She wanted a weapon to swing at him. She wanted him to wrap his arms around her and carry her down onto the nearest flat surface.

Her eyes popped open. Damned hormones.

His hands slid down her sides and wrapped around her, settling her back against his chest as if he’d read her mind. She hoped he didn’t have that ability.

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I’m going to see what else I can accomplish before I call it a day. Do you think you’re going to be stuck at home soon, too? Are you stocking up on essentials? And books? (I think books are essentials, but the W.H.O. would probably disagree with me.)

I hope if you’ve been waiting for news on my Common Elements Romance Project novella that you’re keeping an eye on my Facebook page. I’ve started to post a couple of hints, and will soon have real news like a cover reveal and release date to share. I hope to see you there!

 

( Goal Target – Depositphotos )

I can see the finish line from here! I’m talking about my novella for the Common Elements Romance Project, of course. I wanted it done and out a long time ago, but I’m not going to beat myself up over that anymore. It’s almost ready to be out in the world, and I’m nervous. Excited, but nervous. Like, nauseous when I hit send to get the manuscript to the formatter, just thinking about it again is making me queasy, so I’ll stop that. Instead, I’m going to get back to work on rewrites for my second Medusa trilogy book and maybe start hunting for cover art for that as a reward for checking things off of my writing to-do list this weekend.

Before I do that, I have a little story snippet for you, from the third book in that trilogy, Freeing Medusa.

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Katharine had had enough. Her skin tingled with the need for release again, and her heart beat too fast. And she hadn’t seen any likely candidates. Even a desperate Medusa had standards.

Which meant it was time to go home and break out a couple more vibrators to get through tonight. Dammit.

She took another sip from her glass, smiling at Ramona from her post on the deck. Her friend danced enthusiastically with someone she’d greeted even more enthusiastically just a little while ago. She hated to interrupt, but it really was time to go home.

Katharine sighed and shifted her shoulders, trying to loosen up the tight muscles there, turning her gaze over the crowd one last time. Her breath caught in her chest.

He was gorgeous, in a rugged sort of way. His nose had been broken at least once, but it didn’t matter. A dimple dented his chin, and he had the brightest blue eyes she’d ever seen, black hair dipping over one of them. Even better, his green shirt stretched taut over strong shoulders and a wide chest, then tucked into a pair of jeans that fit nicely on narrow hips.

Her heart beat faster in anticipation.

Then he glanced up from his conversation with a shorter man whose arm was wrapped around an even shorter woman and caught her eye. A slow smile curved his mouth as his gaze slid down the front of her, then back up, making her skin warm in anticipation, lingering on her mouth.

Her lips tingled hopefully.

She took a drink from the cup she still held. Whatever frozen thing Ramona had given her was melting and slushy, but she could still taste the bite of alcohol as it hit her tongue.

He moved away from the couple he was with, toward her, and her temperature went up a couple more degrees. His long-legged stride was confident, though he didn’t rush.

No, damn him, he made her wait, pausing once, briefly, to greet someone along the way.

She tightened her grip on the stem of the plastic cup and took a quick breath.

He finally stopped about two steps away, and she could smell his cologne, something musky that made her pulse race even faster.

She felt her nipples tighten inside her vest.

“Hi.” The low tone of his voice raised goosebumps on her arms despite the warm evening air.

“Hi.” She put out her right hand. “I’m Katharine Vardos.”

He smiled again, that slow curve of his lips that made heat spread in her belly, from the inside out, until her panties were damp when she shifted her weight from one foot to the other.

Then he wrapped his long, strong fingers around hers. “Hunter Phelps. Nice to meet you.”

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I should soon be ready with a cover reveal and release date announcement for my novella, and that will happen on my Facebook page, so if you’re waiting, please keep an eye on that page, because it won’t be long.

What are you doing on this unseasonably warm March Sunday? Do you have spring-fever and plans to go with it this week, or just the usual, no-season, everyday chore list?

 

 

( celebrating success – Depositphotos )

 

I’ve checked off another couple of steps this week toward getting this Common Elements Romance Project novella into your hands soon, which is a huge relief! Just a few more to go with this one, which makes me happy. Then I can take a closer look at my goals for the year to see how much adjustment I need to make since I am late on this one. I hate that, starting off the year late on the first goal. It makes me think maybe the rest of the list is unachievable. Or that there is something wrong with me.

But I will look at the rest of the things on my writing goals for the year and see if I need to make any adjustments. I know I need to break things down for myself, month by month and week by week–it’s what works for me. But the overall list may need to be tweaked.

It’s a good week for me to have passed a couple big steps, because I have some fun planned this week. Mid-week, we’ll be going to see one of my favorite bands again, and I can’t wait!

( Daryl Hall & John Oates – Depositphotos )

We haven’t seen them in a few years, so I am really looking forward to this, and our unseasonably warm winter has no bad weather in the forecast for our drive up and back, which is a relief. I was a little worried when we got tickets for a show in February that meant a one hour drive each direction. That means we can safely get to and from the show and enjoy the whole evening.

The other fun I have planned for this week is my monthly writing group dinner. I’ve probably mentioned before that some friends and I get together one night a month and we have dinner and write for a few hours. And we talk–last month’s discussion revolved around the big Romance Writers of America mess that’s been happening since the holidays. Occasionally, whatever is happening in our worlds, whether writing worlds or personal or in the wider world, takes all evening to cover, but mostly we do get in writing time, and it’s always a joy to see writing friends. Writers spend our writing time alone, and while it’s always possible to chat via text or online, getting together in person is like going home to family. Some of us in the group have known one another for twenty years, some less, but everyone fits perfectly into the group. I look forward to our writing night every month.

Before I get to work on another one of those steps for the novella, I have a little story snippet for you, from the novella.

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Hayden bolted for the back door.

Nate followed more slowly, picking up his son’s jacket from the chair inside the door. By the time he reached the bottom step, he heard his son’s voice, then Lucie spoke in reply, though he couldn’t hear the words. When he cleared the lilac bushes, he expected to see Hayden’s shoulders droop.

He was a little surprised to see the two of them walking into the middle of the neighboring yard while Lucie bounced the big yellow ball on one hand. Huh. He would’ve bet on her putting Hayden off. He paused at the open gate between the yards to watch them. They’d stopped, and she crouched in front of Hayden, who chattered a mile a minute. She nodded as she rose.

Hayden jogged backward a few steps, grinning, then held out both hands.

Lucie gave the ball another bounce before she tossed it to him.

His son caught it, giggling. “Too easy,” he shouted. He jumped once, then moved a few more steps away from her. “Ready?”

“Ready!” She leaned forward and held out her hands.

Nate wished he could see her expression.

Hayden lobbed the ball at her, and she caught it before it hit her in the face. He smiled and shook his head when his laughing son danced backward a couple more paces. “Throw it again!”

“You sure you can catch it so far away?” The tease in her voice made Nate relax. Lucie Russo might be a nice woman. Mindi and Harry trusted her, which meant she was okay.

But she seemed to be enjoying his son, genuinely enjoying him. Maybe she had nieces or nephews–she was comfortable, chatting with Hayden as they played catch.

He leaned on the fence to watch.

“Daddy, come play with us!”

Lucie straightened and looked over her shoulder, eyes widening.

Nate felt a little kick in his gut at the appealing image–pink cheeks, green eyes that tipped up at the outer corners, full lower lip dropping a tiny bit. Lucie Russo was pretty.

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Now I’m going to get some more writing tasks done so I can be ready for the next thing on my goals list for the year as soon as I wrap up this novella release–which involves rewriting the second Medusa story.

How are you doing on your goals for the year so far? Better than I am? Or do you need a little encouragement, too?

 

( Deadline – Depositphotos )

I love deadlines. I love having a finite end date for a project. But I have to confess: if it is a self-imposed deadline, I suck.

I used to be a lot better at reaching those–when I was running my husband’s office and working from home, I had writing goals and deadlines for myself every month of the year, and I always made those, and never at the last minute, always with plenty of time.

If I have a work deadline, or, when I sold Hunting Medusa, those are not my deadlines, so I have to meet them.

The past couple of years, though, my self-assigned deadlines have been pretty terrible failures, and I’m not sure why. I still want to make my goals, but because they’re not line-in-the-sand, absolutely necessary to make because someone else is waiting for what I’m working on, I have a really hard time reaching the finish line, and it’s disappointing. I have adjusted my goal-setting for my writing, knowing that I have to think about other commitments that currently pay the bills, but that hasn’t seemed to help.

I wanted to have this novella for the Common Elements Romance Project finished and out in the world before the holidays. The story is finished, but I can’t stop tweaking and revising–every time I look at it, I want to make something else different and better. I could probably do that for the rest of the year. But I’ll feel worse and worse about it, knowing I should be done and way past that on my goals list. So this week is it. The end. Then I am sending it to be formatted. When I have a release date, I’ll announce it first on my Facebook page, and then shout it from the rooftops everywhere else.

So while I go have dinner with my guys before getting back to my last last round of tweaking on this manuscript, I have a little story snippet for you, from Protecting Medusa, second in my Medusa’s Daughters trilogy (also on my self-imposed goal list for this year).

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Philomena parked beside her mother’s house. She’d arrived first, and she needed to get dinner on in a hurry. Once Jason got home, she’d be too distracted to focus on cooking.

She went in the back door, balancing a grocery bag while she reset the alarm system, then hit the light switch with her elbow as she continued into the kitchen.

She took her mother’s cast iron skillet from its hook over the counter and put it on the stove, turning the heat to high and dropping in some ground beef before she shed her coat. As the meat began to sizzle, she put away the rest of the groceries.

She rolled up her sleeves and dug a spatula out of the utensil drawer, but stopped when she heard a creak from upstairs. She waited, then shook her head. It was an old farmhouse. It made noise sometimes.

She stirred the beef in the pan, adding chopped onions she’d picked up at the store–not out of laziness but because she’d known she needed to move quickly after three days away and with an excitable six-year-old on his way home.

The sound came again. She set the spatula on the spoon rest and turned the flame under her pan down to low, then tugged up the hem of her long skirt to pull her dagger from its leather sheath on her thigh.

A loud thud reached her ears, and her heart beat a little faster.

Dear Gods, someone was in the house.

She crept up the back steps, keeping to the edges where she knew her weight wouldn’t make the stairs creak, the smooth handle of her long knife comforting in her sweat-damp hand.

More thumping, accompanied by running water.

She frowned when she got to the top of the steps, wincing as something hit the porcelain bathtub, followed by muffled cursing.

She stuck her head around the corner, but the partially-closed bathroom door at the other end of the hall blocked her view. All she could see were shadows.

Two people? In her mother’s bathroom? She wished she’d grabbed the phone on her way up so she could call the police. No, she should’ve called before she came upstairs. Too late now.

More thumping and a crash.

Her jaw clenched, and she stepped into the hallway, her pulse pounding in her ears.

“I’ve called the police,” she lied, moving slowly along the hall. Frigid air drifted toward her. Either the bathroom window was open, or something was seriously wrong with the furnace vents on the second floor. She frowned, holding tighter to her knife.

A dark blur went out the window, and her eyes widened. It was quite a drop to the ground, even with all the snow mounded below from the big storms so far this winter.

When a naked man with a gun went to look out the window, she froze in the middle of the hall, her dagger shoulder high.

Naked.

She swallowed, and then he turned around. Her lungs stopped working.

“Hello, Philomena. Have I ever told you how much I love a woman who can handle a blade?” He caught the edge of the door and pulled it wide open.

She’d know that voice anywhere, and that face, even if she’d only seen him in photos. Ryder Ware, Jason’s father.

And wow, was she seeing him in person.

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Here’s hoping for a successful, productive week for us all!

 

 

( Silhouette of kissing couple – Depositphotos )

We’ve had a couple of crazy weeks at the day-job, and it occurred to a few of us the other day that we go a long stretch from the end of year holidays (Thanksgiving/Yule/Christmas/New Year) until there is another ‘day off’ holiday. Not that there aren’t holidays–Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day–just that they don’t get work holidays. Our next one is Memorial Day. It’s a long stretch from January 1st until May 25th. I’m kind of glad I have vacation time to fit in all year long, though I’m still going from my long weekend last month until the end of March before my next long weekend. I didn’t plan that well, did I?

This week is Valentine’s Day, the holiday for romance. I have a couple of fun gifts for my husband, things he will appreciate (I hope), because they involve hobbies he enjoys. We won’t be out joining the other people cramming restaurants Friday evening, we don’t necessarily need to do that anymore. Honestly, this is grocery week, so that’s where I will be heading right after work on Friday, before I go home. But we do other things for one another that are more meaningful than a once-a-year holiday. I’m not saying I don’t appreciate a good Valentine’s Day box of chocolate, because I absolutely do–my husband knows where my favorite candy-maker is locally. I’m just saying that after so many years together, there are everyday things that are just as important.

I’m about to go work on some novella things, but I have a snippet of my fifth shifter story for you first.

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Piper realized she was staring and dragged her gaze away from Joe’s wide chest, back to the book on her lap, flushing hotly. Holy shit.

He cleared his throat. “Sorry, I didn’t realize you were in here.”

“It’s your house,” she mumbled. She heard a soft sound and hoped it was his shirt going on.

“And you’re a guest here.” He cleared his throat again.

She dared a peek and found him watching her, hands in the pockets of his low-slung jeans, a faded blue t-shirt stretched over his chest. “Don’t be silly. You should be able to do as you like in your own house. And we’re only here for a few more days.”

He exhaled roughly. “Really?”

“I spoke to someone this afternoon at a complex in Auburndale, near the office. They have a vacancy.”

“I’ll go with you to look at it.”

She frowned. “That isn’t necessary.”

His mouth flattened. “It is. Is it a shifter complex?”

Piper narrowed her eyes at him. “That doesn’t matter.”

Irritation sparked in his eyes. “It matters, Piper. You can’t take your child somewhere that’s not secure.”

She clamped her jaw shut. Telling him to butt out of her business would be stupid at this point. Without his concern, she’d be scrambling to feed Keely on tips and less than minimum wage hours at a seedy, dive diner. She forced herself to take a slow breath.

Joe sat on the low table in front of her, and she noted the softening of his mouth. “I just want to be sure you two are okay.”

“Why?” She blinked. She hadn’t meant to ask that.

“Because you don’t have anyone else to do it.”

She looked away, stung.

He touched her knee, and she slanted a wary glance at him. “I didn’t mean that the way it sounded. Like I wouldn’t do it otherwise. If I’d realized sooner–”

Piper closed the book and got to her feet. “I’m not your responsibility, Joe. Not the annoying tag-along little sister.” She ignored the burn in her chest and turned away.

He caught her upper arm and swung her back as he stood. “Don’t put words in my mouth, Piper.”

She opened her own mouth to say…something. But she didn’t know what, and it didn’t matter–Joe kissed her. Kissed. Her. Hard, open-mouthed. For a second, she froze, and then realized she was kissing him back.

Stupid, Piper. 

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What are your plans for this Valentine’s Day? Something romantic? Spontaneous? Casual?

 

 

 

 

( hands in form of heart – Depositphotos )

It’s February, which means for the next two weeks, everything will be about pushing romance and gifts for your Valentine. Don’t get me wrong, I love romance and Valentine’s Day (and who doesn’t love a good gift?), but I feel like we should be doing this all year long? Not necessarily the gift part, but if you love someone, let them know, yes? Not just one day a year.

I’m not even talking about saying it constantly. How about some ‘actions speak louder than words’ behavior? A home-cooked meal, a ‘how was your day?’ and listening to the response, or even ‘be careful’ when the loved one is going somewhere. Yes, a gift wrapped in pretty paper is nice, but it isn’t everything.

My maternal grandparents were married for 46 years before my Grandma died, and my paternal grandparents were together 26 years before my Grandpa died. Longevity in romance is a beautiful thing. I never met my dad’s dad, but have heard stories about how much fun my grandparents had together. I knew my mom’s parents well, and they were inspiring. I never doubted that they loved one another, even if they were bickering. When I cleaned out the attic after my aunt died, I found very sweet notes in cards that my Pop-pop had written to my Grandma, reaffirming the affection we all witnessed as kids. That’s the sort of romance many people aspire to. It’s the sort of thing we love in our romance novels, even if we don’t necessarily believe that a gruff Alpha male is going to write love notes to the heroine of his story.

I’m not sure I’ve actually written a hero yet who would compose love notes to his heroine, but maybe I should put that on my to-do list. But for today, I’ll settle for wrapping up another round of revisions on this novella. Before I get to work on that, though, how about a story snippet from Hunting Medusa?

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The sun sank faster behind his left shoulder. True to her word, Andrea had led him on a less meandering route away from their lunch stop, though at just as hasty a pace. Now, nearly two hours later, she was beginning to drag. Their travel this afternoon had led them along sheer rock faces, where they’d held on carefully to keep from tumbling down the mountainside, through thickets of close-set trees that blocked the sunlight, across clear, cool water winding its way down the mountain.

Now they were on fairly level ground, with only the faintest of trails to follow, and a stream tumbled over rocks far below them, its splashing faint from where they trekked. Ahead, Andrea’s pack still bobbed up and down with her steps, but he could see she was tiring. No, that wasn’t correct, he thought. She was exhausted, her shoulders drooping, her steps much slower, but she didn’t stop. She didn’t complain.

“Andrea.”

She glanced over her shoulder at him, and he could see the weariness in her eyes.

“We need to stop for the night.”

She shook her head. “He’s coming.”

He couldn’t deny it. “He isn’t going to get you.”

“Not if I keep moving.” She turned forward again.

He caught her backpack and forced her to stop. “Agaph, we need to rest.” He brushed one hand from her shoulder down her arm. “I won’t let him get you.”

Something flashed through her eyes, too fast for him to decipher, and she shook her head. “Not yet. The cave is only a little farther.”

He sighed as she swung away, trudging along. “How far?”

“Another mile or so.”

He frowned. In another mile, she’d be crawling. He walked faster for a moment, until he was on her heels. “Along the trail?”

She shook her head. “Behind the waterfall.”

He touched her swinging arm lightly. “Are you sure you can make it?”

She glared at him over her shoulder and kept going. Sped up for a few seconds before returning to her tired pace. “I can make it,” she said through gritted teeth.

Kallan smiled grimly. She was determined, his Medusa. Then he thought of the other hunter on their trail. He wouldn’t allow Stavros to have her. Andrea was his, and he’d protect her to the death.

As if she’d heard his musings, Andrea glanced back over her shoulder. “He won’t find the cave.”

He raised one eyebrow. If his cousin was really on their heels, he could find a cave.

“You couldn’t find it even with me, if I didn’t want you to. It’s protected.”

He pondered for several minutes as they walked, and then realized he could hear water that was louder than the stream below. The falls. “Can we go faster?” If Stavros had arrived early, he might already be in the forest, and on their trail. Kallan wanted to have her safely away before dark, when it would be harder for his cousin to track them. But he did wonder how the cave was protected exactly. That might prove problematic.

She squared her shoulders. “Of course.” She picked up her pace a little, and he smiled at her back.

Of course she could. She’d never admit weakness. Not to him. Not even to him. Maybe especially not to him.

Agaph.”

She stumbled, then righted herself, her wide, wary eyes turning back toward him.

“I think I’m falling in love with you.”

Shock widened her eyes more. “What?”

He caught her upper arms. “I said I’m falling in love with you.”

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Now I’m off to revise my (still title-less!) novella for the Common Elements Romance Project so I can get my book cover finished and my formatting set…so I can get you a release date!

What romantic inspirations do you have for this month?

 

 

( Top view of laptop – Depositphotos )

I’m going to miss my deadline.

To be fair, it was a self-imposed one, but I hate missing deadlines, even the ones I’ve given myself. But I am working out the last few big things for the novella release. It will be a few weeks later than I hoped, but it is still going to be out soon.

So I can get back to finalizing these important things for release, I’m leaving you with a little snippet of the novella.

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Hayden gave her a quick hug and then ran back to his book in the living room.

“I really do appreciate this, Lucie,” Nate said from where he stood at the sink.

“It’s nothing, Nate,” she said lightly. “Keeps me from having to spend endless hours on the job search sites and getting more depressed than I already am.” She kept her head down as she buttoned her sweater up to her chin.

“It isn’t nothing to me.”

His firm, quiet tone snared her attention, and her mouth went dry. The shadows in his brown eyes made her curl her fingers around the edges of her sweater to keep from reaching out.

“I’m not accustomed to asking for help.” He cleared his throat. “I appreciate it.”

She swallowed. “It’s no problem,” she whispered. Dammit–hot, attracted to her, and vulnerable. Shit, that was trouble. She took a slow breath. “I’ll see you in the morning then.” She inched toward the door.

A hint of awareness darkened his eyes, but he stayed where he was. “Good night, Lucie.”

She took two more steps, clearing the doorway to the mud room, and a little relief sank into her belly. Until she heard his footsteps behind her.

Within reach of the back door, she whirled around. He stood at the open doorway of the kitchen, undisguised desire in his eyes this time. Her heart skipped a beat, and she felt a quick rush of excitement that she tried to squash as he stepped into the mud room. She held her breath as he took another step. One more. Until he stood a foot away, and her breath rushed out.

He studied her face for a long moment, and she wondered what he saw, what he was looking for. Impulsively, she moved closer to him, noting the way his eyes rounded, and she stretched up to brush a kiss on his mouth, lingered for a second, then stepped back.

“Good night, Nate,” she whispered, reaching behind her for the doorknob.

His dark gaze followed her out the door, and she turned away, feeling a smile curve her lips.

Well, that was nice. She could deal with the repercussions another day, and, for now, be reminded she was still alive.

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As soon as I have my last few things settled, I will let you all know the release date for this novella. What are you working on this week? And are you going to make your deadlines?